Friday, April 29

Rough Medicine


Rough Medicine, Surgeons at Sea in the Age of Sail 
by Joan Druett
a brief book review by Tony Gerard

Rough Medicine is a very interesting and readable book, although the title is a bit misleading. It might better be subtitled "Surgeons on Whaling Ships in the early to mid nineteenth century". The first chapter deals with the seventeenth century surgeon John Woodall's publication "The Surgeons Mate".  Druett makes some interesting comparisons about shipboard medicines recommended by Woodall and those carried on nineteenth century Whalers. It's remarkable how little changed over the ensuing centuries.

After that first chapter the rest of the book deals with the experiences of surgeons on whaling vessels, drawn largely from the writings of a number of surgeons so engaged. It's an interesting read, chapters deal with surgeons relation with Captains and crewmembers, native peoples in the south Pacific, the actual business of whaling, accidents aboard ship, fighting scurvy, the ship's medicine chest and more. Surgeons of the Royal Navy and the East India trade get a few passing mentions. 

 Although not focused on Naval surgeons specifically I recommend this book to anyone interested in shipboard medicine.

Wednesday, April 27

To be or not to be a bum boat girl?


By Mecca Caron

Just what options do women have in the world of sailor (British Navy) reenacting?  Believe it or not, there really were women’s roles with the Navy.  Which means there are great opportunities for women interpreters attached to the Acastas.  

The most obvious and common choice is to portray an officer’s wife, waiting about for the occasional shore visit from the husband. This works well for those who like to promenade and tiptoe fancifully, hosting teas and fine dinners and all-the-while being the picture of fashion.  But we must keep in mind that it wasn’t all silk and wine for sailor’s wives!  

It wasn’t easy being married to a sailor.  Well-to-do wives were left behind for months and even years at a time.  They were expected to run the estate or household and raise the children alone.  From a letter (dated June 9, 1755) to her husband, Admiral Boscawen, Fanny Boscawen describes being busy from 6:30 AM until 11:00 PM, dealing with the running of their country estate and the raising of their five children.  The tasks she described included feeding the chickens, consulting with her housekeeper concerning menus and other household affairs, working with the estate manager concerning livestock and farming, walking to the village, eating meals, writing letters, and working in the dressing room with the children while another read aloud until the girls’ bedtime, then consulting with the housekeeper again before going to bed at 11:00 PM.  

But we can’t all be officers wives, can we?  Certainly, we could take on the task of interpreting what it was like to be the wife of an ordinary seamen.    In records of the day, we see glimpses of the hardships they endured as they attempted to survive without their husbands for long periods of time.  Wives of sailors did not receive regular income from their husbands, as sailors were only paid very infrequently, when the ships commission ended.  Is was common for wives to go from between 6 months to three years without receiving any of their husbands’ pay.  For example, in 1821, the local churchwardens of Portsmouth, England appealed to the Admiralty for financial assistance to help support all the Sailors wives and families.  It was also common knowledge of the time that, if a sailor’s wife wanted to be sure to get her share of her husband’s wages; she must be on hand when the ship docked and the dockyard commissioner and his clerks came out to pay the sailors in cash.  There is no doubt that sailor’s wives did what it took to survive, knowing that they might be months or even years without seeing a penny in Navy wages.  In addition to raising their large families, these women took in lodgers and laundry, went into domestic service, and even ran taverns or lodging houses.  Some women, in dire straits, even became thieves. We know from courth records, that Mary Dutton, a widow of a sailor, was hanged at Tyburn on January 13, 1742, for stealing a watch in Piccadilly and Elizabeth Fox, one of London’s notorious pickpockets, was hanged in 1741.  


If you’d prefer not to be left behind, you might transform yourself into a man with yards of tape, glue, and cloth.  Woe betides those of us with ample bosoms and womanly curves!  It's a hard thing to pull off, even for the pencil bodied women. There are, in fact, a few who manage it today, just as a few women did in the 1700’s and 1800’s. A case in point is the tale of Elizabeth Bowden, a fourteen-year old girl who was listed on the books of the HMS Hazard as a boy of the third class.  Elizabeth managed to stay disguised as a boy for nearly six weeks before her shipmates discovered her.  Upon this discovery, the captain of the ship gave her separate living quarters and allowed her to stay onboard ship, serving as an attendant to the officers.  In the 1740’s, Hannah Snell served in the army and navy as a man for four and a half years before she revealed that she was a woman.

For the brazen and bold, one could always portray the seedy side of life aboard ship as a visiting prostitute, or bum boat girl. When ships came to port and sailors had no right to shore leave, it was a common practice for sailors’ wives and prostitutes to be ferried out to the ship.  As a nod to naval regulations, prostitutes selected by the sailors were signed on as their wives and were allowed to live onboard ship while she was in harbor.  They drank, danced and shared the sailor’s hammocks until time for the ship to leave harbor.  Unfortunately, they often left their sailor men a parting gift of venereal disease that the ship’s doctor would have to treat.  

For sailors lucky enough to be granted shore leave, the lower sort of prostitutes were to be found in taverns and alleys.  These women were very often crass, uncouth, and dishonest.  A somewhat better class of strumpet lived in Albert Square and Seven Star Alley and often described themselves as a wife to a visiting sailor.  There is an account of a German women who told an interviewer that she was currently living with an English sailor whose ship was in the docks, saying that she had known him for almost two years and that he always lived with her when he came ashore.  She continued by saying that she took all his money when he landed, spent half of it while they were together, and kept them remainder when it was time for him to go back aboard ship.  It was not uncommon for these prostitutes to have anywhere from four to ten regular sailor husbands who would seek them out when they came ashore.   

For the more discerning sailor and officer, the Harris’ List or the Covent Garden Magazine were the places to find a classier sort of whore.  These lists often described the women of London’s pleasure gardens and their prowess in nautical terms and the officers consulted them as they would a bawdy catalogue.

But if being a man or a bum boat girl isn't quite the right fit, you might choose to portray a standing officer’s wife, living on board the ship with her husband.  It was usually the wives of warrant officers such as the gunner, boatswain, and the carpenter, who were permitted to go to sea.  These standing officers received their warrants from the Navy Board and were attached to the same ship from the time she was built to the day she was broken up.  Quite often, these warrant officers were more reliable, older men and their wives, therefore, viewed as more respectable.  Wives of warrant officers lived in a cabin on board ship with their husbands and often acted as surrogate mothers to the young boys in the crew.  There are also mention of them helping to tend to the wounded and assist with powder during battle.  Women of the lower deck did not officially exist, though we see glimpses of them is records of the ship’s doctor or private journals.  In fact, in 1806, the Navy regulations revised by Lord Barham stressed that captains were not to allow women to sail onboard ship without orders from his superior officer or the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.  Yet John Nicol, a seaman on board HMS Goliath during the Battle of the Nile (1798), mentioned women carrying powder to the guns, providing water and wine to the soldiers during the battle, and tending to the wounded.  He goes on to mention that one woman died during the battle and another gave birth during the chaos.  The presence of women onboard ship is also documented in various court marshals.  The court-martial record (March 15, 1799) of five members of the crew of the HMS Hermione accused of mutiny details the capture, escape, and eventual pension application of Mrs. Martin, widow of William Martin, who acted as Boatswain during the mutiny attempt.

Well, girls, if none of this strikes your fancy . . . just consider, even the 19th century was a material world.  So grab your reticule and your seaman’s pay, and go shopping, you material girl!


References for further reading:
Cordingly, David.  Women Sailors & Sailors’ Women:  an untold maritime story.  Random House, 2001.

Druett, Joan.  Hen Frigates:  Passion and Peril, Nineteenth-Century Women at Sea.  Simon and Schuster, 1998.

Rees, Sian.  The Floating Brothel:  The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts.  Hyperion, 2002.

Tuesday, April 26

A Letter from the Top


To my lovely wife,

Today's Post by
Acasta Crew member
Michael Araiza
I hope this letter reaches you and the children in good health.  I was hoping to write you days ago but I have been busy in the tops. I have worked so hard even the ship’s carpenter, J. Apple, says I could one day be captain of the top, or so he says.

On that very sad day we set sail you asked “Oh, Araiza why you set sail with the Acastas and not some rich privateer.” Well I am going to try and explain this. I was 14 years of age and was serving as a cabin boy on board the Spanish privateer Juno for el Capitan Jimenez. We were carrying a load of indigo and coco when we were overrun by the Ship Acasta. We made a run for it but we were outgunned and outmanned. So sadly el Capitan Jimenez surrendered his ship and cargo, much to his dismay. Upon inspection of the crew, Captain Fellows took a liking to me and asked if I would come aboard and serve on the Acasta. I of young mind and fearing otherwise, accepted. Not knowing I was being impressed.

As the years passed and the captains changed hands I took a liking to other daily tasks of the Acasta. To include sails and the top masts. So the captain graciously allowed me to learn the ways of a top. Once I learned enough I joined a mess of tops. Since that time I have busy working up top and have made a many good friends. Ships Carpenter J. Apple and the Surgeon’s assistant T. Gerard have also taken a liking to me. So now that I am part of the crew I stay because of my duty to my fellow shipmates, and we are also rumored to be the best officered and best frigate in the service. Also the prize money may be good on French ships.

My dearest I hear the watch bells ringing and I must return to the top. I will write to you again soon.

Your dearest husband,
  M. Araiza
Top

Friday, April 22

To keep all sorts of fire arms and steel from rust:

"Take a quarter of an ounce of camphire and half a pound of hogs lard, dissolve them together over a very slow fire , and take off the scum, then mix as much black-lead as will bring them to an iron color, spread it over your arms, steel grates, or fire irons, and let it lie 24 hours, then clean them as well as possible with a dry linen cloth, and they will keep six months: but when you lay by your irons, the general way is to try mutton suit; rub the irons well with it, roll them in papers, and so lay them by the winter; but goose-grease is far beyond it. and keeps irons much better, and is a very good thing to clean irons at any time, rubbing it off dry with a linen, and after that with scouring paper; they will look well and do without anything else."

I s'posin I shuld be honor'd that th Doctor only lets me cleen his pistol - but any joy I git from it goes away caus'n he stands over me somethin' frightnin to make sure'n I don't ruin his baby.

From the book: "The Servant's Directory, Improved" or "House Keeper's Companion; Wherein the duties of the Chamber-maid, Nursery-maid, House-maid, Laundry-maid, Scullion or Undercook, are fully and distinctly explained. To which is added, Cookery and Pickling sufficient to qualify a person to act as THOROUGH SERVANT in any family."

Tuesday, April 19

Matriarch of Many a Good Fighter

By Jas. Apple

Once when about shore in Bermuda I happened upon a negro who spoke very good English, truly better than most of he Irish on board. He politely inquired which ship we were from and I informed him, he knew of Her.

He said that there was on board our ship a game cock that went seventeen straight in a Welsh main, and that he his'self was the best setter to in the whole of Bermuda, and could heel any bird to its best advantage.

He then told all his fellows in a tongue none if us had ever heard, about our ship's 'Lord Nelson' and his victories and then they asked him to inquire if they were true. 

I told him that most likely were all greatly exaggerated, but 'Lord Nelson' did in fact win every bout when pitted, even his last nine at a Welsh main as a blinker.

They then asked if we intended to fight him while wintering, and upon hearing of his untimely death at the hands of the King's enemies, they all fell solemn upon the news of his passing.

The linkster, a stout man by the name of Jupiter with a great amount of propriety asked my name and upon translation the men laughed and cackled, much to my dismay. Uneasy and wanting to be on the lee shore of this goat, Jupiter then informed me that there was nary a slighting to my good name but simply that the Royal Marines treat them as chattel and asked if we had any skates for sale!

In or around a fortnight or so, give or take, I happened upon Jupiter again, and he told me of one of his birds, that by his pledge was the matriarch of many good fighter and that she always threw roosters. He then begged to know if we had any gamecocks onboard and to this I answered no,  I only have broody hens.

He insisted that I take but one egg, not to eat, but one to fight!

Friday, April 15

To Kill Rats


Pound some stone-lime, and mix it with oatmeal and coarse sugar; lay it about the house, set water by it, for after they eat of it, they will drink till they burst, then the rest will leave the place.

Though this seems but a simple thing, yet it will destroy them faster than any thing else, and do no other damage.

"Th' Doctor always seys iffn' you can find a more kinder way of killin them rats, to use it. I think bein' kill't by a right good blow to me hed is a better way to go than poison to the guts, but he ent ever listenin' to me."
From the book: "The Servant's Directory, Improved" or "House Keeper's Companion; Wherein the duties of the Chamber-maid, Nursery-maid, House-maid, Laundry-maid, Scullion or Undercook, are fully and distinctly explained. To which is added, Cookery and Pickling sufficient to qualify a person to act as THOROUGH SERVANT in any family."

Thursday, April 14

Musket Ball Removal in the 19th Century


A Trocar, Musket Ball Forceps with musket ball, Bullet Probe with ribbon and Catlin.

Wednesday, April 13

Articles of War


THE ARTICLES OF WAR 1757

1. All commanders, captains, and officers, in or belonging to any of His Majesty's ships or vessels of war, shall cause the public worship of Almighty God, according to the liturgy of the Church of England established by law, to be solemnly, orderly and reverently performed in their respective ships; and shall take care that prayers and preaching, by the chaplains in holy orders of the respective ships, be performed diligently; and that the Lord's day be observed according to law.

2. All flag officers, and all persons in or belonging to His Majesty's ships or vessels of war, being guilty of profane oaths, cursings, execrations, drunkenness, uncleanness, or other scandalous actions, in derogation of God's honour, and corruption of good manners, shall incur such punishment as a court martial shall think fit to impose, and as the nature and degree of their offence shall deserve.

3. If any officer, mariner, soldier, or other person of the fleet, shall give, hold, or entertain intelligence to or with any enemy or rebel, without leave from the king's majesty, or the lord high admiral, or the commissioners for executing the office of lord high admiral, commander in chief, or his commanding officer, every such person so offending, and being thereof convicted by the sentence of a court martial, shall be punished with death.

4. If any letter of message from any enemy or rebel, be conveyed to any officer, mariner, or soldier or other in the fleet, and the said officer, mariner, or soldier, or other as aforesaid, shall not, within twelve hours, having opportunity so to do, acquaint his superior or a commanding officer, or if any superior officer being acquainted therewith, shall not in convenient time reveal the same to the commander in chief of the squadron, every such person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of the court martial, shall be punished with death, or such other punishment as the nature and degree of the offense shall deserve, and the court martial shall impose.

5. All spies, and all persons whatsoever, who shall come, or be found, in the nature of spies, to bring or deliver any seducing letters or messages from any enemy or rebel, or endeavor to corrupt any captain, officer, mariner, or other in the fleet, to betray his trust, being convicted of any such offense by the sentence of the court martial, shall be punished with death, or such other punishment, as the nature and degree of the offence shall deserve, and the court martial shall impose.

6. No person in the fleet shall receive an enemy or rebel with money, victuals, powder, shot, arms, ammunition, or any other supplies whatsoever, directly or indirectly, upon pain of death, or such other punishment as the court martial shall think fit to impose, and as the nature and degree of the crime shall deserve.

7. All the papers, charter parties, bills of lading, passports, and other writings whatsoever, that shall be taken, seized, or found aboard any ship or ships which shall be surprized or taken as prize, shall be duly preserved, and the very originals shall by the commanding officer of the ship which shall take such prize, be sent entirely, and without fraud, to the court of the admiralty, or such other court of commissioners, as shall be authorized to determine whether such prize be lawful capture, there to be viewed, made use of, and proceeded upon according to law, upon pain that every person offending herein, shall forfeit and lose his share of the capture, and shall suffer such further punishment, as the nature and degree of his offense shall be found to deserve, and the court martial shall impose.

8. No person in or belonging to the fleet shall take out of any prize, or ship seized for prize, any money, plate, or goods, unless it shall be necessary for the better securing thereof, or for the necessary use and service of any of His Majesty's ships or vessels of war, before the same be adjudged lawful prize in some admiralty court; but the full and entire account of the whole, without embezzlement, shall be brought in, and judgment passed entirely upon the whole without fraud, upon pain that every person offending hemin shall forfeit and lose his share of the capture, and suffer such further punishment as shall be imposed by a court martial, or such court of admiralty, according to the nature and degree of the offense.

9. If any ship or vessel be taken as prize, none of the officers, mariners, or other persons on board her, shall be stripped of their clothes, or in any sort pillaged, beaten, or evil-intreated, upon the pain that the person or persons so offending, shall be liable to such punishment as a court martial shall think fit to inflict.

10. Every flag officer, captain and commander in the fleet, who, upon signal or order of fight, or sight of any ship or ships which it may be his duty to engage, or who, upon likelihood of engagement, shall not make the necessary preparations for fight, and shall not in his own person, and according to his place, encourage the inferior officers and men to fight courageously, shall suffer death, or such other punishment, as from the nature and degree of the offence a court martial shall deem him to deserve; and if any person in the fleet shall treacherously or cowardly yield or cry for quarter, every person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.

11. Every person in the fleet, who shall not duly observe the orders of the admiral, flag officer, commander of any squadron or division, or other his superior officer, for assailing, joining battle with, or making defense against any fleet, squadron, or ship, or shall not obey the orders of his superior officer as aforesaid in the time of action, to the best of his power, or shall not use all possible endeavours to put the same effectually into execution, every person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of the court martial, shall suffer death, or such other punishment, as from the nature and degree of the offence a court martial shall deem him to deserve.

12. Every person in the fleet, who through cowardice, negligence, or disaffection, shall in time of action withdraw or keep back, or not come into the fight or engagement, or shall not do his utmost to take or destroy every ship which it shall be his duty to engage, and to assist and relieve all and every of His Majesty's ships, or those of his allies, which it shall be his duty to assist and relieve, every such person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.

13. Every person in the fleet, who though cowardice, negligence, or disaffection, shall forbear to pursue the chase of any enemy, pirate or rebel, beaten or flying; or shall not relieve or assist a known friend in view to the utmost of his power; being convicted of any such offense by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.

14. If when action, or any service shall be commanded, any person in the fleet shall presume or to delay or discourage the said action or service, upon pretence of arrears of wages, or upon any pretence whatsoever, every person so offending, being convicted thereof by the sentence of the court martial, shall suffer death, or such other punishment, as from the nature and degree of the offense a court martial shall deem him to deserve.

15. Every person in or belonging to the fleet, who shall desert or entice others so to do, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as the circumstances of the offense shall deserve, and a court martial shall judge fit: and if any commanding officer of any of His Majesty's ships or vessels of war shall receive or entertain a deserter from any other of His Majesty's ships or vessels, after discovering him to be such deserter, and shall not with all convenient speed give notice to the captain of the ship or vessel to which such deserter belongs; or if the said ships or vessels are at any considerable distance from each other, to the secretary of the admiralty, or to the commander in chief; every person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of the court martial, shall be cashiered.

16. The officers and seamen of all ships appointed for convoy and guard of merchant ships, or of any other, shall diligently attend upon that charge, without delay, according to their instructions in that behalf; and whosoever shall be faulty therein, and shall not faithfully perform their duty, and defend the ships and goods in their convoy, without either diverting to other parts or occasions, or refusing or neglecting to fight in their defence, if they be assailed, or running away cowardly, and submitting the ships in their convoy to peril and hazard; or shall demand or exact any money or other reward from any merchant or master for convoying any ships or vessels entrusted to their care, or shall misuse the masters or mariners thereof; shall be condemned to make reparation of the damage to the merchants, owners, and others, as the court of admiralty shall adjudge, and also be punished criminally according to the quality of their offences, be it by pains of death, or other punishment, according as shall be adjudged fit by the court martial.

17. If any captain, commander, or other officer of any of His Majesty's ships or vessels, shall receive on board, or permit to be received on board such ship or vessel, any goods or merchandises whatsoever, other than for the sole use of the ship or vessel, except gold, silver, or jewels, and except the goods and merchandisers belonging to any merchant, or other ship or vessel which may be shipwrecked, or in imminent danger of being shipwrecked, either on the high seas, or in any port, creek, or harbour, in order to the preserving them for their proper owners, and except such goods or merchandisers as he shall at any time be ordered to take or receive on board by order of the lord high admiral of Great Britain, or the commissioners for executing the office of lord high admiral for the time being; every person so offending, being convicted thereof by the sentence of the court martial shall be cashiered, and be for ever afterwards rendered incapable to serve in any place or office in the naval service of His Majesty, his heirs and successors.

18. If any person in or belonging to the fleet shall make or endeavor to make any mutinous assembly upon any pretence whatsoever, every person offending herein, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of the court martial, shall suffer death: and if any person in or belonging to the fleet shall utter any words of sedition or mutiny, he shall suffer death, or such other punishment as a court martial shall deem him to deserve: and if any officer, mariner, or soldier on or belonging to the fleet, shall behave himself with contempt to his superior officer, being in the execution of his office, he shall be punished according to the nature of his offence by the judgment of a court martial.

19. If any person in the fleet shall conceal any traitorous or mutinous practice or design, being convicted thereof by the sentence of a court martial, he shall suffer death, or any other punishment as a court martial shall think fit; and if any person, in or belonging to the fleet, shall conceal any traitorous or mutinous words spoken by any, to the prejudice of His Majesty or government, or any words, practice, or design, tending to the hindrance of the service, and shall not forthwith reveal the same to the commanding officer, or being present at any mutiny or sedition, shall not use his utmost endeavours to suppress the same, he shall be punished as a court martial shall think he deserves.

20. If any person in the fleet shall find cause of complaint of the unwholesomeness of the victual, or upon other just ground, he shall quietly make the same known to his superior, or captain, or commander in chief, as the occasion may deserve, that such present remedy may be had as the matter may require; and the said superior, captain, or commander in chief, shall, as far as he is able, cause the same to be presently remedied; and no person in the fleet, upon any such or other pretence, shall attempt to stir up any disturbance, upon pain of such punishment, as a court martial shall think fit to inflict, according to the degree of the offence.

21. If any officer, mariner, soldier or other person in the fleet, shall strike any of his superior officers, or draw, or offer to draw, or lift up any weapon against him, being in the execution of his office, on any pretence whatsoever, every such person being convicted of any such offense, by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death; and if any officer, mariner, soldier or other person in the fleet, shall presume to quarrel with any of his superior officers, being in the execution of his office, or shall disobey any lawful command of any of his superior officers; every such person being convicted of any such offence, by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death, or such other punishment, as shall, according to the nature and degree of his offence, be inflicted upon him by the sentence of a court martial.

22. If any person in the fleet shall quarrel or fight with any other person in the fleet, or use reproachful or provoking speeches or gestures, tending to make any quarrel or disturbance, he shall, upon being convicted thereof, suffer such punishment as the offence shall deserve, and a court martial shall impose.

23. There shall be no wasteful expense of any powder, shot, ammunition, or other stores in the fleet, nor any embezzlement thereof, but the stores and provisions shall be careful preserved , upon pain of such punishment to be inflicted upon the offenders, abettors, buyers and receivers (being persons subject to naval discipline) as shall be by a court martial found just in that behalf.

24. Every person in the fleet, who shall unlawfully burn or set fire to any magazine or store of powder, or ship, boat, ketch, hoy or vessel, or tackle or furniture thereunto belonging, not then appertaining to an enemy, pirate, or rebel, being convicted of any such offence, by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.

25. Care shall be taken in the conducting and steering of any of His Majesty's ships, that through willfulness, negligence, or other defaults, no ship be stranded, or run upon any rocks or sands, or split or hazarded, upon pain, that such as shall be found guilty therein, be punished by death, or such other punishment, as the offence by a court martial shall be judged to deserve.

26. No person in or belonging to the fleet shall sleep upon his watch, or negligently perform the duty imposed on him, or forsake his station, upon pain of death, or such other punishment as a court martial shall think fit to impose, and as the circumstances of the case shall require.

27. All murders committed by any person in the fleet, shall be punished with death by the sentence of a court martial.

28. If any person in the fleet shall commit the unnatural and detestable sin of buggery and sodomy with man or beast, he shall be punished with death by the sentence of a court martial.

29. All robbery committed by any person in the fleet, shall be punished with death, or otherwise, as a court martial, upon consideration of the circumstances, shall find meet.

30. Every officer or other person in the fleet, who shall knowingly make or sign a false muster or muster book, or who shall command, counsel, or procure the making or signing thereof, or who shall aid or abet any other person in the making or signing thereof, shall, upon proof of any such offence being made before a court martial, be cashiered, and rendered incapable of further employment in His Majesty's naval service.

31. No provost martial belonging to the fleet shall refuse to apprehend any criminal, whom he shall be authorized by legal warrant to apprehend, or to receive or keep any prisoner committed to his charge, or willfully suffer him to escape, being once in his custody, or dismiss him without lawful order, upon pain of such punishment as a court martial shall deem him fit to deserve; and all captains, officers, and others in the fleet, shall do their endeavour to detect, apprehend, and bring to punishment all offenders, and shall assist the officers appointed for that purpose therein, upon pain of being proceeded against, and punished by a court martial, according to the nature and degree of the offence.

32. If any flag officer, captain, or commander, or lieutenant belonging to the fleet, shall be convicted before a court martial of behaving in a scandalous, infamous, cruel, oppressive, or fraudulent manner, unbecoming the character of an officer, he shall be dismissed from His Majesty's service.

33. Every person being in actual service and full pay, and part of the crew in or belonging to any of His Majesty's ships or vessels of war, who shall be guilty of mutiny, desertion, or disobedience to any lawful command, in any part of His Majesty's dominions on shore, when in actual service relative to the fleet, shall be liable to be tried by a court martial, and suffer the like punishment for every such offence, as if the same had been committed at sea on board any of His Majesty's ships or vessels of war.

34. If any person who shall be in the actual service and full pay of His Majesty' ships and vessels of war, shall commit upon the shore, in any place or places out of His Majesty's dominions, any of the crimes punishable by these articles and orders, the person so offending shall be liable to be tried and punished for the same, in like manner, to all intents and purposes, as if the same crimes had been committed at sea, on board any of His Majesty's ships or vessels of war.

35. All other crimes not capital committed by any person or persons in the fleet, which are not mentioned in this act, or for which no punishment is hereby directed to be inflicted, shall be punished by the laws and customs in such cases used at sea.

Tuesday, April 12

A Letter Smuggled Home

This letter has been translated from its original French: 

Messer. Francois Rochambeau 
Hotel Marzon
Market Street
New Orleans

Dear Sir,

   I write to you from the island of Bermuda, which is much more agreeable than Halifax. Had we been forced to spend the winter there I  am sure I would have lost my nose and ears to the cold! It was completely disagreeable before we left and not yet full winter! I find Bermuda to be not very different than Louisiana. 

  There are a number of American prisoners here, some soon to be exchanged. It is through them that I hope to send this letter. I have talked long with them about my misfortune of being pressed, for it would not do for them to know that I had volunteered when I saw that to resist was useless.

 Aside from being in a service not of my choosing, and missing Marie and the boys with all my heart, I find myself satisfied enough in my present circumstance.  The Acasta is what the English term a "happy ship", which is not to say the crew is always merry, but they are content enough most of the time. The Captain, his name is Freymann, is a taut but very fair man, and his officers seem to follow his example. He has spoken to me on several occasions, as he often comes to the sick bay to visit the sailors that are hurt, always with a cheerful word for them and most admire and respect him for doing so. He seems to think me more learned than I am, I am not sure why, perhaps because I have often served the doctor in his natural philosophy pursuits. The Saints know all the science knowledge I have was gained only from you and dear Messr Duval. The last time he spoke to me the Captain asked me of my thoughts on some philosopher's - a fellow Frenchman who's name escapes me- theory of transmutation. On confessing my ignorance of such a theory he explained it to me. A taper was burning, it being dark below decks, and he explained that the theory holds that the candle does not actually burn into nothing, but is transformed into gases and wind. Do you know of this theory? If this were true, might it not be possible to direct the wind from a controlled flame- of burning oil perhaps- and cause a ship to move even in a dead calm? I shall ask him this if he speaks to me of it again. I have learned it is considered improper in an English ship to speak to the Captain without his addressing you first.

The Doctor, his name is Roberts, I have become rather fond of, although he is often a very private fellow. I think the Doctor began to like me better when he found I had no love for Bonaparte. I have heard him tell other officers that I am a "Monarchist". He has often left me in charge of his duties when he dines ashore or aboard another ship.  He recently showed me my name as "Asst Surgeon" for the Acasta in the Navy List. This is good for me as my pay is more. I am sure this is somehow due to his influences, and I am grateful. It could go poorly for me if we are captured, but that is a bridge I shall cross if ever I come to it. Just between us I think he may be more than a surgeon and natural philosopher. He has been kind enough to allow me to read his medical books which are in French. As I was returning one I happened to pick up one in English to look at the pictures it contained. A leaf of paper fell out which had curious rectangles cut out of it- they fit the lines of the book and perhaps would show only certain words on a page? Although no one saw me I felt I had violated the trust of this man who had shown me only kindness. The less I know of such things the better. We have spent some time here trying to find a certain sea bird he wished to collect, but so far he has been disappointed. The bird is called a "cahoe", do you know it? So far we have yet to see, much yet collect, this bird.

The Carpenter, his name is Apple, is my particular friend. As it happens we had known each other long before, although I did not know him for the years which had passed and that he has lost a number of fingers since he was  young. We are tie mates- although he has the best of this partnership- for as you know time has left little for him to deal with on me, whereas he has a beautiful queue reaching to his belt. He tells me he can make mine handsome by interspersing it with oakum. What do I care for my own beauty  - I have already captured the last woman I intend to pursue! He is also fond of cocking and has a good head for it. There is a pit here and we go there whenever we have liberty. We have done well enough with our winnings that the other fellows now ask us to choose their birds.  

My taper burns low and I have a busy day tomorrow, the Doctor being ashore. I have enclosed a letter for Marie. God willing we will be sent from here to a blockade of New Orleans.

I am, as always Sir, forever your servant, 
Baptiste

Monday, April 11

When I was Shipwreck'd

Being a remembrance of HMS Acasta Carpenter Mr. Jas. Apple


"Once when when sailing past a unseen cove of the island of---------- and serving as a carpenter's mate on my first ship the Tsalagi, and doing the chores of the day, found myself aloft helping to repairing a damaged foremast yard and we had just begun bending the sail when a French vessel came upon us blind from her cove and took us completely by surprise, taking out the foremast and the rigging above the foremast was taken by bar and chain and the damage being done made a mess of our repairs.

As we were in a better position for wind, we made for open water and having beaten to quarters we made ready for battle and I was given the duty of staying aloft to help with the setting of the forecourse. At which time the foremast gave way taking five of the seven topmen, leaving us without the captain of the tops and the shrouds taking hold of my right hand making it all but useless with only the use of me little finger and thumb. Being that only two men, myself included remained and those above lost, we watched as we hurried doing very little good and even though having lost or damaged sails we made good wind and soon found a reef that stopped and tore us from our race.

This having been done, the French, having decided that we were not be taken as a prize, set about the work of finishing what damage had been so graciously done by the reef. My sail gave way and set me in the warm waters, but to my luck the mast being of wood acted as good as any boat and although being quite a bit wetter, saved my body although beaten and crushed. As luck would have it I was able to conceal myself from the French guns and marksmen by concealing myself under one of the sails, and as the French wanted nothing to do with the reef and she departed in safe waters.

As the tide raised what was left of our ship it also pushed my raft of sail and oak towards the shore that I could clearly see but dared not try to make. As it would turn out much of the provisions would scatter themselves upon the beach for miles as well as many of my fellow ship mates, the others having been taken by the deep and given to God. Those of us that were spared made quick work of being shipwrecked and buried our dead and made houses from the sails and rigging.

We were not for want of food, and clean water was found not far inland at a nice pooled spring, which by chance was a good place to make meat to add to the diet of fish and crabs. A good supply of dry powder and shot and a number of serviceable muskets allowed us to hunt and defend ourselves if necessary

It would seem that my fingers would benefit from being removed and with my rigging knife having just been sharpened I chose to loose them for fear of loosing more. Having butchered foul and beast I showed them on some sort of lesser of the monkey family that we had gotten with shot while it lay sleeping aloft. I must admit it was a bit odd instructing the fellows on how to pull back the skin and go into the joint and they did the monkey so bad as you could see it that I thought it better for me to cut off my whole hand. But they had better luck with separating the creatures elbow that I had some faith restored that I might save my hand and they made quick work of it and were able take the skin and pull it back over the knuckle, tying them shut with small threads from of one of the wild pigs backstrap that we took to eat, and if you were here sharing a gill with me now might remark how nicely they set, only loosing those three tips.

One of the fellows, an able seaman who always seemed to be sick or hurt when there was work to be done on board had to pull his line well enough when there was work to be done on land.

Being the carpenters mate and no carpenter gave me a sort of promotion to ships carpenter, but without no ship and orders to back me up it was just a honorary rank. And having said this the old tar by the name of Collier set with another hauling spars and any parts of the ship that might perchance be of use for the houses, others set about collecting lines and canvas. He did complain as he had done on sea and now on land about any work. So we set him to the most lesser of all tasks and as a result he was stricken if not by God by fate with the nastiest of saddle boils, which took directly to weeping.

Once he had something real to be sick and miserable about he soon lost all interest in burdening those around him with any of his aches and pains, and morale was greatly improved."

Friday, April 8

To take Ink or Wine out of Woolen or Linen Cloth


Take the juice of lemons and wet the spot with it several times, letting it dry each time, then wash it with soap and vinegar, and the spot will go out.

At least I only have to do the Doctor’s linens, if’n the rest of the crew affer Christmas dinner wanted all thems linens and coats warshed i’d warsh right through my hands. I never met with a messier clan of loud and lively men.

From the book: "The Servant's Directory, Improved" or "House Keeper's Companion; Wherein the duties of the Chamber-maid, Nursery-maid, House-maid, Laundry-maid, Scullion or Undercook, are fully and distinctly explained. To which is added, Cookery and Pickling sufficient to qualify a person to act as THOROUGH SERVANT in any family."

Thursday, April 7

Dentistry in the 19th Century

The Tooth Key, Goat's Foot Elevator and Crane's Bill Forceps.

Wednesday, April 6

Amputation Instruments in the 19th Century


From top to Bottom: Mechanical Tourniquet, Capital Amputation Saw, Metacarpal Saw and the Capital Amputation Knife.

Tuesday, April 5

The Gentleman's Magazine, Nov. 1812

Nov 1812 edition of 'The Genetleman's Magazine'

Page 478 from the Gentleman's Magazine Nov. 1812 issue.

Images from 1812 History.com